Restaurants / Openings

Top Chef’s Much-Anticipated Fort Worth Restaurant Quietly Opens — Your First Look at Walloon’s, a New Marcus Paslay Wonder

A PaperCity Exclusive

BY // 07.25.23

When the new mixed-use development known as The 701 opened last October, it introduced a few spectacular amenities to Magnolia Avenue. On the one hand, its addition of a much-needed parking garage (some 200 parking spots) seemed like the best news ever. Until Marcus Paslay revealed he was taking over the former ground-level beauty salon at the corner of Hemphill to plant his fourth restaurant Walloon’s. Then it became truly ground-breaking news.

Guess what? Walloon’s just opened quietly for lunch and dinner, without any fanfare or announcement. It happened on Monday. And Paslay gave PaperCity Fort Worth an exclusive first tour. Consider it a sneak peek of the stylish space and the coastal food his From Scratch Hospitality team has created.

Another bonus? Paslay notes that Walloon’s will validate parking too.

Paslay is already the chef and owner of Clay Pigeon on White Settlement, Piatello Italian in Waterside and Provender Hall in Mule Alley. But Walloon’s is his first coastal-inspired restaurant and it is set inside what was originally Fort Worth’s 1st National Bank, built back in 1927. The historic section of The 701 includes its paseo connecting to the brand-new building and parking garage, which is set behind.

Walloon's signage is installed on the historic 1927 building's façade. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Walloon’s signage is installed on the historic 1927 building’s façade. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Foxcroft out of Dallas is the design team that recently gave Paslay’s Piatello a refresh and the chef notes that his original Clay Pigeon (which celebrates its 10-year anniversary this coming December) will soon get its own update.

The design team transformed the Walloon’s space from its most recent life as a beauty salon into what Paslay calls a “Chicago meets New Orleans” interior. Many of the original bank’s details add layers of historic charm to the inviting space, like the ornate tin ceiling tiles overhead and the inlaid terrazzo star underfoot near the swivel stool-lined raw bar.

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Banquette seating in a mix of wine red or chocolate brown upholstery pops against black and white mosaic checkerboard flooring. Cafe chairs are woven in red and tan. Tabletops set in cool white quartz or warm medium-toned wood are scattered throughout. And a dramatic view of downtown Fort Worth peeks out above the cafe curtains.

Paslay says the L-shaped restaurant really glows at night. An interesting mix of vintage-style sconces, Art Deco-style milk glass drop pendants and large glass bowl chandeliers cast a warm glow over the space. Seated at the horseshoe-shaped bar, more milk glass lights are installed on the bartop itself. Paslay says that seating at the dramatic bar will be first come first serve. Otherwise, reservations for Walloon’s can be made on Resy.

The terrazzo flooring with its inlaid star and the bank vault at Walloon's are now topped by an oyster shell. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
The terrazzo flooring with its inlaid star and the bank vault at Walloon’s are now topped by an oyster shell. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Walloon’s is now open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Saturday and Sunday brunch is expected to start in the next couple of weeks.

When Walloon’s was first teased last fall, Paslay and his team hadn’t decided yet what to do with the antique bank vault. He says it will soon “be turned into a tasting lounge.” The new emblem painted above the massive door is an oyster shell, of course.

An Early Look at Walloon’s Menu

Marcus Paslay tells PaperCity that he thinks of Walloon’s as “an American grill. It’s seafood-focused with a full raw bar, entree salads, even classic steak frites.”

Scott Lewis, who serves as the executive chef over the entire From Scratch portfolio, will run the show. Like the space itself, the menu they’ve crafted feels very Chicago meets New Orleans.

Walloon’s cocktail menu is filled with old school classics including two takes on the old fashioned, a signature Hemingway daiquiri, a brandy-based sidecar, a Manhattan, a gin-based negroni and what Walloon’s calls “Fort Worth’s coldest martini.”

The raw bar is filled with plump shrimp, mussels and fresh oysters all chilling on ice. They are mostly Canadian and East Coast varieties, including Prince Edward Island (or PEI) oysters. You can also try them on the fried oyster Rockefeller appetizer. Other apps include a deviled crab dip, steak tartare (a different recipe from the Clay Pigeon menu mainstay) and beer-battered redfish beignets.

Vintage stools line the raw bar at Walloon's. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Vintage stools line the raw bar at Walloon’s. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Along with a classic wedge salad, there’s an inspired crispy calamari salad, Walloon’s namesake chopped salad featuring roasted salmon and green goddess dressing, and a hearty steak salad atop arugula ― drizzled with chimichurri.

The entrees include the aforementioned steak and frites, a grilled trout almandine in brown butter and lemon, and a redfish bouillabaisse with mussels and shrimp. The seafood mac and cheese will be filled with lobster and shrimp. The moule frites is a Belgian-style mussel dish in a shallot, white wine and garlic sauce. Pan-roasted salmon will be served with creamed leeks, potatoes, zucchini and dill.

The sandwich section of the menu is not to be overlooked. The Walloon burger with Dijonnaise will compete with a classic New England-style lobster roll and a Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich for supremacy.

With a charmingly familiar space and a coastal menu to match, Marcus Paslay’s new Walloon’s will certainly light up Fort Worth’s Southside neighborhood.

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